June 25, 2012

You know, when I was a kid in elementary and high schools, I never forgot my books for class.  I suppose part of the reason why I never forgot my books in elementary school, was that the books we needed for class, were always in the class.  I can’t remember a time, up until high school, when we were allowed to take home school textbooks, unless we had the permission of our teacher.

That being said, who did take home textbooks?  Whenever we were assigned homework, it was always copied on a Gestetner machine, or later, ditto machines.  We only used the textbooks in class, and once that particular class was finished, the books were returned back, and we went on with the next subject.

High school was a bit different.  We had a homeroom class, but all our other classes were in different classrooms.  We were assigned textbooks at the beginning of the year, and the books were returned at the end of the year (or semester, depending on school).  I can honestly and truthfully say, I cannot remember a time when I forgot my textbooks for my classes.  Each and every morning, mom would make sure, had we had our books at home, that they all went back with us that day – even if we didn’t have that particular class that day.

I can remember times when I didn’t have my homework, but that’s a whole different ball o’ wax!  A homework assignment or book report or project occasionally got ‘forgotten’ at home, but never, ever did we forget our textbooks.  They were not only important for the class, but they were also used for the class.  As well, if we didn’t bring in the textbook, for whatever reason, the school would levy a fine (small, but nonetheless) upon us for NOT bringing in the textbook.

Here in Taiwan, and obviously I can’t speak for students in Canada or the U.S. now, it seems to be a daily thing, to forget one’s books.  The students rely on mommy and daddy to remember to put their books in their book bags for them every morning.  As well, the schools require the students to take home every student book, workbook, and textbook, each and every day!  For some of these little Taiwanese kids, that means their book bags at times, weigh more then them!

There was one school I attended, where we were on a “Day” system.  The eight periods or classes, were broken up in a way, that gave each student (and teacher) only six classes per day.  The school week was then allotted a day, anywhere from Day 1 to Day 6.  We were given the schedule for the school year, however, at times, the days would have to be changed from the schedule.  However, all around the school, and even in the classrooms, there was always a plaque showing what “Day” it was.

In this type of system, where the weeks were always different, I can see perhaps forgetting your books.  Again, I cannot remember anyone ‘forgetting’ their books at home.  Then again, worst came to worst, most students could go home at lunchtime to get their books.

On one hand I commend parents for wanting to take a more active role in their children’s education.  But there are limits.  Rather than always making sure your child has all their school books, papers and pencil case, why not ASK them if they have their school books, papers, and pencil case? Rather than doing their homework for them, HELP them to find the information needed to complete the homework.

I may be unconventional in my teaching, in some ways.  I don’t give answers to students.  I encourage them to find the answers themselves.  Yes, I may have some responses that, might be considered a little odd for a teacher, but, I want my students to think, use their minds, look for the answers, use that grey matter we all call a brain!  When an educator, and in this case, ‘educator’ to me is ANYONE who teaches children, not limited to only teachers, but parents and relatives and anyone who has any influence on giving guidance to the younger generations, just gives answers and tells students what to say and do, this encourages laziness.

The analogy I use is this:  as an educator, I am like a hardware shop owner.  As a student, they are like a carpenter (for lack of another term).  I (as the shop owner) can provide the student (carpenter) with all the tools and supplies needed to build a home.  I can supply the wood, the nails, the wiring…  anything and everything the carpenter needs to build that home.  However, I am not the carpenter.  I cannot build that home.  Only the carpenter can do that.  The carpenter must be able to take all the various tools and supplies given to them, and turn it into a home.

And I consider myself a pretty damn good hardware shop owner!  I have all the supplies you need, all the best tools and products needed to build a really good home.  All the student needs, is a little bit of ‘elbow grease’, determination, and a dream of an incredible home.  I can help the student to realize their dream ‘home’, but I cannot build it for them.  Otherwise, it would be MY home!


That’s it, that’s all… for now!



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3 responses to “June 25, 2012

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